Cooking Up a Good Book
I just started listening to a new audio-book on my commute–a foodie mystery called The Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke–and it motivated me to do something I rarely do–BAKE. A book inspired me to cook–what’s next?!
The book’s protagonist, Hannah Swensen, is the owner of The Cookie Jar. As the book progresses, she includes recipes that are mentioned in the story line. It was such fun copying the recipe while driving in rush hour traffic! (Kidding! I waited for the red lights.)
I’ll readily admit that I had a string of drool on my chin as I listened to the narrator describe the cream puffs. Is it any surprise that I was slaving away at that square box of fire in my kitchen (a stove, I think?) all weekend trying to make those little poufs of pastry goodness?
Well, it is if you know me–I have a serious aversion to the kitchen and the activities that occur in that room. Of course, that doesn’t preclude me from owning every tool and gadget that Williams-Sonoma has to offer. I’m strange, I know.
Friday’s batch of cream puff shells were perfect, but the filling was less than stellar. I tried again on Saturday morning and the pressure was on because I volunteered to bring several dozen puffs to a party. I cooked up a different filling and made fresh shells. I was shocked after I sampled them (yes, more than one!)–they were delicious!
Have you ever made a recipe that you found in a novel or do you use the old standby–a cookbook?
If you’re not afraid of bikini season, I strongly encourage you to take an hour out of your life and make these bites of heavenly goodness.
Cream Puff Shells
(from Joanne Fluke’s The Cream Puff Murder)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) UNSALTED butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup flour, packed down
- 4 eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
On medium heat in a small pot or sauce pan, pour in water. Chop butter into pieces and put into water. Let it melt. Add salt and sugar. Bring to a boil.
In a bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Once water mixture is boiling, turn heat down to low and dump in flour/baking powder mixture. Stir quickly for about 30 seconds–mixture will form a dough ball. Remove from heat and let the dough cool for about 20 minutes on the counter.
Once dough is cool, break one egg and mix it into the dough until smooth. Repeat with remaining eggs, one at a time until mixture has a smooth, taffy-like consistency–about 3-5 minutes with mixer. Don’t overmix.
For mini-cream puffs, drop a teaspoon of batter per puff on to the parchment-lined cookie sheet. You can fit 12-15 per sheet–don’t crowd them. Cook them for about 35-40 minutes; when you take them out of the oven, pierce the sides with sharp knife to prevent collapses. If you’d like to make large puffs, cook them for about 55 minutes. Let the puff shells cool away from drafts. Yield 25-35 mini puffs or 10-14 large ones.
When they are cool, cut the top 1/3 off and remove any stringy dough. Fill with Nat’s Ghetto Cream Puff Filling.
Nat’s Ghetto Cream Puff Filling
(I don’t take credit for this recipe, I just wanted to name it after me.)
1 3.5 oz box of Jell-O INSTANT vanilla pudding
2 cups heavy cream
Pour heavy cream and instant pudding mix into a bowl. Whip with a whisk or mixmaster until it’s the consistency of whipped cream–light and fluffy, but NOT butter. Ha!
Scoop filling into a quart-sized Ziplock bag. Cut off the bottom right corner of the bag. Pipe filling into shells. Add lids. Sift powdered sugar on top of cream puffs. Watch them disappear.